This details the first part of a series of automation projects we did in 2017 for our buy-and-hold real estate business. This post will help you with your bookkeeping and organizing loans and lines of credit using Tiller HQ and Google Sheets.
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As much as I love to outsource, bookkeeping is one of the few tasks I’ve held on to. It forces me to look at our income and expenses on a monthly basis. This benefit has barely outweighed my dislike for doing it.
I’ve attempted to use QuickBooks unsuccessfully and have resorted to using Quicken Rental Property Manager for the past several years. I’ve always preferred the customization of a spreadsheet. Unfortunately, I hadn’t found a good solution to automatically bring transactions to the sheet and categorize and tag them with minimal ongoing effort.
That is, until I stumbled upon Tiller!
It’s an inexpensive tool ($5 per month) that will automatically download your transactions—banking , credit cards, lines of credit, etc.—daily into a Google Sheet that can be shared with anyone you’d like. You can then customize the tabs based on your needs. I have pivot tables set up to show expenses by month and property, and I have income from our property management software Appfolio automatically added into the sheet each month.
I had a script built that categorizes (e.g. “repairs,” “utilities,” “property taxes,” etc.) and tags each transaction by property based on its description. I may do a video in the future if there’s some interest in it. You can also check out AutoCat, recently built by Tiller, which will auto categorize based on your preferences. It’s prettier than mine, but it doesn’t automatically tag by property just yet.
It will take some time to get set up, but it’s well worth it. The amount of time I spend bookkeeping has consistently decreased each month as I’m adding new transactions to the pattern matching (so that the script will match the category in the future and potentially the tag). I no longer dread this task!
Checks are the one block of payments that I haven’t figured out how to automate. I had a script developed that downloads the check images from our bank and saves them into a specified Google Drive folder. This saves me from looking up each check online on my bank’s website. Ultimately, it would be great to take it one step further.
Organizing Loans and Lines of Credit
We’ve manually updated loans and lines of credit in the past as we think about it in a spreadsheet. For instance, if we take $5,000 off a line of credit, we may or may not update this. The current principal balances of our loans would be inaccurate in our spreadsheet, as we weren’t updating them often enough.
The main thing I want to know is how much available credit we have at any time. I want to see this in one spreadsheet. I’ve set up another Tiller spreadsheet (separate from the bookkeeping one) that keeps track of balances and uses the “Import Range” function to constantly check for any updates to our lines of credit.
For loans, I’m able to see updated information for any loan, such as current principal balances, how much of our monthly payments are going to interest and principal, and our anticipated mortgage interest for a given year. They’re not 100 percent accurate, but they are fairly close.
What tricks have you found to automate processes in your business?
Share them below!